Managing the care of cancer patients who need hospitalization calls for specialized resources and expertise, including familiarity with an array of cancer medications and their potential side effects.
When an adult cancer patient is admitted to Dana-Farber’s Inpatient Hospital, located within Brigham and Women’s Hospital, his or her care is managed by a team led by a medical oncology hospitalist.
Oncology hospitalists are a relatively new type of cancer physician. Based full-time in the hospital, they manage the day to day care of inpatients while closely coordinating with the primary oncologist.
These days much of cancer diagnosis and treatment occurs in outpatient settings and at home, as more medications can be given in oral form. Patients may need hospitalization if their disease worsens or they develop a treatment complication, or experience side effects of a standard or experimental medication.
Hospitalists work in multidisciplinary teams with nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, nutritionists, social workers, and other specialists, including surgeons, radiologists, and palliative care experts. Because they’re based in the hospital, they’re well-positioned to coordinate tests, treatments, and transportation, while monitoring patients’ day-to-day progress.
The patient’s primary oncologist will continue to make visits and be involved with the oncology hospitalists in decisions related to their cancer treatment.
Edwin Alyea, MD, Dana-Farber’s physician leader of Inpatient Oncology and associate director of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center Adult Stem Cell Transplantation Program, heads the oncology hospitalist program.
“In addition to providing excellent care, oncology hospitalists focus on improving quality and efficiency as well as safety in the inpatient environment,” Alyea says.